Memphis Fast Fiction Home
Zachary Whitten

The devil and I looked out across the Mississippi River.

He’d been after me for weeks, hounding me.

“There’s a whole country across that crap-brown river.” He said, a forked tongue darting in and out of his red lips. “A thousand places that are better than this, calling out to you. Just pick any one, and I’ll give you more than you ever imagined.”

“I’ll be honest, sir.” I was polite, my father taught me to be polite to anyone – even the assholes. “Anything more than what I can get here is more than I need. I wouldn’t know what to do with if it I had it.”

“But if you stay here, you might not amount to anything! Everything you worked for might be forgotten the second you die. You’ll be as inconsequential as a single fleck of silt in all of the Mississippi.”

This was new, and I considered it for a moment before answering him.

“I think you forget, sir, that silt built up the bluffs you’re standing on. And if that’s all I end up, I could ask for anything more. Because then I’ll know that I’ll always be a part of something I love.”

Memphis Note
This is the last story of this project. Number Three Hundred and Sixty Five. It is actually the first prompt submitted, too. I submitted it on November 15th, 2010, they day I put the earliest version of the website up. It was always my intent to write a story back to myself at the end of this, sort of to see where my head was at the end of this madness. Maybe to see if I’d have fallen out of love with this city once I’d found out how really broken it is. But, no. I think I love it more than I did before.

Zack Parks

The devil liked it at the P&H Cafe. It had just the right mix of desperation, desire and crushing defeat that made his job so much easier.

It didn’t hurt that the stuffed burgers were hedonistically sinful, either

He looked around the smokey room, running his tongue over his teeth. It was early yet, so the pickings were still rather slim.

A group of comics were off in a corner, bumming cigarettes from each other and arguing over who’s turn it was to refill the pitcher. Dangle fame in front of them, and they’d turn on each other in a second.

In the booth behind them, a young filmmaker poked a timidly at his laptop, trying to catch the same bolt of lightning that Craig Brewer bottled here. And for a price, the devil could give it to him.

As the night wore on, more would flow in. More souls with more temptations.

The Poor and the Hungry, indeed.

What an absolutely perfect name for these people and this place.

If the devil ever dared to imagine his version of heaven, it would probably be a lot like this.

He ordered one of those stuffed burgers and settled in.

Memphis Note
The P&H has been the womb of and dashing rocks for many great artistic dreams in Memphis. The cheap beer, greasy food, and morally lax atmosphere has drawn in local creatives for years, and shows no sign of ceasing.

Chris Lam

Aggoraxia’s massive head rose out of the mire of the swamp behind her. Great scaly lids rolled back from bottomless black eyes as he focused on her.

“Child,” said the ancient, “come away from there. Those things are not for you.”

Zel spun and hissed at him, hair standing straight off her hackles. “What do you know of it, swamp beast?”

His eyes watched her, emotionless and vast. “That their world is not ours. Even for one as young as you.”

“I sometimes slip away, you know. Phasewalk into the between place, and travel amongst them unseen.” She turned away, looking at the flickering lights across the river. “They call it a city. Emmm-phes is its name.” Her voiced drifted off. “Look at how the lights dance…”

The great beast chortled, a sound like bubbling mud. “They are intoxicating. But beware those that live under them, kit, they are capable of terrible things. And their world will soon consume our own, I fear. Why not stay in ours while it lasts?”

With that, Aggoraxia silently melted back into the swamp.

Zel watched the lights for a while longer, then slipped down off her perch and back into her world.

Memphis Note
Ever wondered what sort of magic might have existed in the unseen spaces before we got to them? About how it might’ve felt, watching us slowly grind toward it?